"If my daughter didn't believe everyone at the end of that Internet was innocent she would be alive today," she said in a November 5 Vancouver Sun story
As always, the point of this blog is to examine the tactics used in individual cyberbullying cases and to dissect them as a way to provide parents and educators with teachable moments for the kids in their lives.
According to an article in Digital Journal, when Amanda was 12 years old, she flashed her breasts to a boy she'd met online through a webcam she was using with friends.
"Police knocked on her door early on Christmas Eve of that year to tell her the picture had been posted online. This began her slide into depression that included anxiety, substance abuse, and cutting herself."
Not knowing the family personally, I can only speculate, but it sounds as if the girls were role playing a flirty version of "Girls Gone Wild" like it was a joke, a lark.This type of Sexting happens all the time; it's what author Nancy Willard Executive Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use characterizes as a way to negotiate relationship issues, not actual cyberbullying Sexting. At 12, Todd probably wouldn't have thought what kind of terrible consequences could derive from flashing a stranger.
But the cyberbullying instantly started with a nasty Digital Pile On as well as morphed offline into physical bullying where Todd was actually beaten up by a group of teens.
In the Vancouver Sun article, Carol Todd told the group: "Amanda eventually came to realize the mistakes that she made from that one night when she was 12 years old," Todd told the crowd, referring to an incident in which Amanda flashed someone on the Internet. "She never thought it would come to haunt her for the rest of her life. It was a mistake - it became a life sentence and in the end, it contributed to her death."
Webcams or smartphones--the technology doesn't matter-when it comes to Sexting, there are multiple reasons to do it and the underlying conversation every mother needs to be having with her daughter before the new phone is handed over is: Can I trust you to protect yourself with this device? Pre-play with them the various scenarios.
Tell her what happened to Amanda, to thousands of girls across the country whose innocent mistakes have come back to haunt them. The Sexting conversation is essential in every household these days, more than any other topic we cover in our book. The technology will always be available. It's up to us to prevent the behavior.
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